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Rotation players get lead, Garbage players lose lead, Rinse, Repeat.

We here at Silver Screen and Roll try our damnedest to provide you with the most comprehensive Lakers analysis on the web.  Each game gets a preview, an immediate recap, and a more in depth recap the following day (offer void on holiday weekends, apparently).  To show how awesome we are at our jobs, we've begun getting a head start on the recap by just telling you what will happen before it does.  Witness yesterday's preview, courtesy of the lovely and talented Dexter Fishmore:

Their solid recent play notwithstanding, the Hornets just don't have the talent to hang with a Lakers team that's been looking increasingly sharp and merciless. Expect first-half pwnage, followed by garbagio time, and then the usual "How much of this lead will the bench fritter away?" festivities.

Seriously, what more needs to be said about last night's game?  It completely encapsulates the entire game, in 2.5 sentences.  I'm taking the night off.

Not satisfied?  Fine, I guess I can mention a few of the finer points that went into a wholly predictable and relatively boring game.  But you'll have to put forth the effort and find this stuff after the jump.

We're going bullet form today.

  • The starters were good, but this game was broken open by what I have taken to calling the 1.5 unit.  See, you can't say "The Lakers Bench" without causing people to have night-terrors, but in the new 8 man rotation PJ has been working with lately, the bench players who are actually playing significant time have been quite productive.  And last night, a 10-0 run which started with Farmar, Brown and Odom on the floor is what broke this game open.  Witness Farmar and Brown both having positive +/- marks, despite playing all of a final quarter lost by 10 overall.
  • The Lakers came out pretty slow, only building a 4 point advantage in the 1st quarter.  They couldn't miss, but neither could New Orleans.  Bad defense for the Lakers?  Good shooting for the Hornets?  Probably a little bit of both, but I don't think the defense made a hugely dramatic improvement from the 1st quarter (27 points on 60% shooting) to the 2nd quarter (15 points on 27% shooting).  The Hornets just started missing shots.
  • There was lots of talk about how Bynum was not playing good defense.  Sure, there were a couple of missed assignments early on, but overall, his performance was about what it always is.  For those of you who say that's not good enough, consider this.  The Lakers have the 2nd best defensive efficiency (might be 3rd with the Celtics playing woeful Charlotte) in the league.  They are a better defensive team than they were last year, certainly.  You can, and should, attribute it to Ron Artest's defensive efforts.  Kobe can be a great defender.  Pau and LO are both strong defensively.  Even Fisher doesn't seem like the liability he was last year (at least not all the time).  But Bynum is right there with all of them.  He's not holding the Lakers back defensively.  This is a very good defensive team, and it is not in spite of their starting center.  No, he doesn't block a ton of shots.  But he's big, he does alter a fair amount of shots, and he's not getting a ton of fouls and losing playing time because of foul trouble.
  • Gotta love Phil Jackson basically playing Chicken with the victory tonight, putting out the scrubbiest lineup humanly possible (Farmar, Brown, Vujacic, Morrison, and Powell) for the last 6 minutes of the game, not blinking as a 20 point lead shrank to 10 with two minutes to play.  When asked about it after the game, he said:  
    I was going to suffer the consequences tonight. One way or the other, [the reserves] have got to take responsibility for how they play.
    Look, I've got no problem with Phil putting it on the bench and letting them know "We will win or lose with you."  I love the sense of responsibility, I love the ownership.  It's great coaching.  Except for the part where he completely sets them up for failure by putting out a lineup that has no semblance of sense to it.  Farmar, Brown, and Vujacic are all guards.  Morrison is almost a guard himself, and Powell is a power forward.  There are exactly three teams that would consider a lineup like this (and I'm talking regardless of talent, just the sizes and normal positions of these players), Phoenix, New York, and Golden State.  Everyone else would know to steer clear of Crazy Town.  With no one over 6'10" to protect the rim, and a host of chuckers providing long rebounds, and slow transition defense from Morrison and Vujacic, the last six minutes of the game were a layup line for New Orleans.  And it should have been, considering the personnel on the floor.  I have no idea why Jackson didn't play Mbenga.  You could have replaced any one player on the floor with Mbenga and had a more effective and coherent garbage time unit.  Hell, I would have been in support of Mbenga cherry picking on defense.  It's not as if the Lakers going 4-5 on offense would have effected the results much.
  • Adam Morrison was genuinely aggressive in last night's game.  He tried to drive, he tried to create his own shot.  The results were not horrible, but certainly not something I'd want to see in meaningful playing time.  It was nice to see him do something with a hint of confidence.  Here's hoping that confidence doesn't go away after he damn near air-balled a wide open 3 pointer.  Good God, he's supposed to be a good shooter right?  I think both Morrison and Vujacic should enter the NBA 3 point shootout.  Then, they can settle once and for all who really is the worst "shooter" in the NBA.
  • I can't promise that people will shut up about how "easy" the Lakers schedule is after the next few games (the Lakers still have the 2nd strongest Strength of Schedule amongst teams with 5 losses or less, behind only the Atlanta Hawks, by the way), because our road/home split is only getting more ridiculous.  But at least we will be playing some teams that will provide just a bit more of a measuring stick than the cellar-dwellars that have been coming to town the last few days. 

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